HEALTH and safety killjoys have been accused of destroying Christmas in West Wickham.

Transport for London (TfL) has told the West Wickham Town Centre Association it needs to pay for test certificates to ensure lampposts are strong enough to support Christmas lights.

Traders fear the new licence could cost up to £4,000 and will stop the High Street from being treated to festive illuminations for the first time in 20 years.

The High Street has been red route under TfL's supervision since 2000 so it is managed by the transport body rather than Bromley Council and is one of London's major roads carrying up to 30 per cent of city traffic.

Secretary of the association Jane Avis manages the family-run shop Waterways, in the High Street, which has been running for more 30 years.

She said: "We’ve had Christmas lights for over 20 years. My mum used to do it and then I took it over.

"It doesn’t make a massive difference to trade, it just gives a good community feeling.

"West Wickham High Street has been a red route for four or five years and they never asked for anything.

"But last year they said we need to comply with regulations which are different to Bromley Council’s."

The shop manager is not going to take this bureaucratic minefield lying down.

She added: "We’re going to fight them all the way. We won’t let them dampen our Christmas spirits."

Resident Charles Sebestyen, of Woodland Way, added his voice to the swell of frustration.

The 70-year-old retired property executive who has lived in the area for around 35 years, said: "It has killed the Christmas spirit in the West Wickham area.

"TfL is being ridiculous. I simply do not understand how something that has worked for a long time is now suddenly unsafe."

Mr Sebestyen, who is a member of West Wickham Residents’ Association and wrote about the situation in the association's newsletter, added: "It’s just sad because in this economic climate, the traders can’t afford it.

"David Cameron talks about the big society where people do something for themselves and this is what happens."

TfL director of roads Dana Skelley said: "Safety on our road network is the top priority and any additional attachments to a lighting column on our road network have to be fully considered to ensure their weight or size does not have the potential to put the public at risk.

"That is why we have a clear licensing procedure in place to help ensure any applications for decorations can be assessed appropriately.

"Hundreds of these licences are issued for festive decorations across London every year however we will contact local traders to discuss the matter and see whether a workable solution can be found."

Councillor for renewal and recreation Peter Morgan said: "The traders have worked extremely hard to gather funds together to decorate their High Street and we have supported them in this. 

"We are now pressing TfL, who are responsible for this road as a red route, to see if anything can be done to rectify this situation in time for Christmas."